Skip to main content

Reply to this post | See parent post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 10:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 3/12/85 2 song pre drums

It is odd there is only two songs with no real signs of equipment issues or other problems,but it is an excellent version of Playin' with Brent adding some nice touches throughout.During the He's Gone at about 1:56 Jerry sings "cat on a tin roof on a ten mile smile" which I found funny.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 11:47am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

This Playin is kind of an aesthetic dilemma for me. I think it is good in many ways, but there are others in which I'm not too thrilled with it, because even though there are good things from moment to moment, it seems that it never really goes completely crazy, never changes to a defined melody and rhythm, never does a really sudden transformation between moods - in other words, not many landmarks. Even during open, free improv, I think there should be some parts that sound "scary", some that sound "pretty", some loud parts and some quiet parts. This jam stays too much at a mezzoforte, half groovy, half weird level throughout, I think.

In other words, where's the drama?

Now, thinking a little more deeply, I wonder if this is a difference in stylistic perception between my ears and other listeners. From the very nice post about "under the radar" guitarists and other comments about people's listening, I'd guess that modern jazz is the genre many people listen to most outside the GD?

I think my attachment to classical music primes me to focus on the idea of dramatic contrast in music - those moments where the music is really quiet, and then suddenly there is this sense of rapidly rising tension, a huge dramatic explosion of sound, and then the music changes direction again quickly. You hear this kind of dynamic a lot in European art music, and Beethoven (the greatest classical composer) is famous for making somewhat of a breakthrough in this regard, with his music having much bigger and more dramatic contrasts than that of previous composers. Even early in his career he was writing music more dramatic than anything previously written for instruments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zOv76GMLbU

One of the reasons I've never been drawn into jazz too much is that a lot of jazz has this kind of "smoothness" to my ears where it proceeds for long stretches of time with the same style and feel to the music, there aren't necessarily a lot of dramatic events in the music.

I find it interesting that film music is one of the places where the 19th century symphonic style still has a real home - watching movies, people who don't listen to much classical seem to still appreciate the way an orchestra can play the mood of "scary, ominous" for a scene of hiding from a pursuer, and then transition to something triumphant and march-like to represent victory and success. This kind of musical continuity between contrasting moods is something that is often missing to my ears in popular music, where instead you have a division into short songs and the contrast is between the different songs - each song has its own mood and there isn't internal contrast.

I talk a lot about how I hear the GD as being "classical" in many senses, and this sense of narrative in the music and dramatic contrast is central to it.

So, when I listen to a PITB or Dark Star or Other One, all the big classic jam pieces, what makes a version special to me is all about how much drama the music has. The big early 70s jams are my favorite because I hear the most dramatic events - the Tiger jam sounds to me like a crisis, a tragic event that the hero has to overcome, and themes like the Mind Left Body jam stand for peace or healing, and the music "tells a story" by connecting songs and themes and spontaneous events.

So, this particular Playin jam and others that are similar are enjoyable to me and I can appreciate them, but I always feel somewhat disappointed when a long jam doesn't have a few notable landmarks or sudden sharp turns, because if you listen to a 15 minute long movement of a symphony or string quartet, there will usually be several moments of dramatic contrast and change that draw me into the music emotionally.

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-07-22 18:47:37

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 22, 2011 1:15pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

There are many Playin's from the early '80s where I feel the same way - they pitter along for a while and go nowhere; Jerry just spits out flurries of notes with zero variety and eventually they just stop for drums...
While I don't hear the more varied jams of the early '70s as a "story," I do like the contrasts between sections. Or heck, at that point they're playing so well I don't even need contrasts - a lot of the great Playin' jams of '72/73 aren't really full of variety!

I would take it as a given that there aren't many internal contrasts in pop music...considering that pop music is mainly short songs! There are some exceptions....I guess I'd cite the Beatles (as in so many other ways) as being the best example in this regard, because they worked on different kinds of contrasts - there's the thematic Abbey Road medley that was mentioned; then there's the contrast between songs (as on the White Album) where each song seems to be by a different band; then, mainly in some of Lennon's songs, there's the 'section' song where each part is done in a different style.

I'd agree with snow&rain that most GD fans probably listen more to rock (or country) than jazz, by a wide margin.
It's funny that you cite film music as a 'home' for the symphonic style - since I generally loathe film music. And, though you might not guess it from my posts, I don't listen to much jazz either - I have much more of a pop/folk sensibility! The kind of thing that excites me would be something like this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il2xXRSJLmc
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApwS4L8exYo

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2011-07-22 20:15:55

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 1:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I don't think film scores have much value as independent works of art, but I do think it is significant that the devices of musical rhetoric created by 19th century symphonic composers are still very much in use in that context. I was mostly using that example to give readers who don't listen to symphonies a reference for what I meant by drama and contrast and a narrative sense in music.

I agree completely about the Beatles - I think I posted before saying that the Beatles were the other great rock group which I hear as incorporating a lot of elements which overlap with classical music. Something like "A Day in the Life" diverges wildly from standard rock templates in both structure and sound.

I think I misstated what I meant about jazz and other genres. I should have said "outside of the GD and other classic rock" because I certainly agree that GD listeners are more likely to listen to Dylan and Hendrix and Cream than anything else. I hope my incessant focus on classical music doesn't make people think I don't listen to or fail to appreciate other rock.

Nice links LIA btw, I'm also a huge fan of that kind of raw traditional folk based music, not that I'm particularly expert on it. I'm not sure I've ever seen you comment much on Garcia/Grisman collaborations, which I think are Jerry's finest non-GD work to my taste. Thoughts?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 22, 2011 7:43pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

True, I haven't commented on Garcia/Grisman... Nice, smooth, easy-listening music!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 11:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Not sure if I'm reading you right, it sounds like you don't like Shady Grove, the Pizza Tapes, etc? Maybe I'm not understanding your intended meaning, it sounds like you are trying to say those recordings aren't interesting?

I feel like I must be confused, because I can't really imagine how you could like traditional acoustic music and Jerry Garcia and not love the recordings with Grisman, the music making is just so direct and joyful and natural.

You certainly don't have to explain or justify your tastes to me, I just admire your writing about the band and I'm always impressed by how accurately you hear. Regardless of any differences in taste, your comments on what the music sounds like and what it relates to are invariably well-founded. I'm really curious what you hear that is "wrong" with recordings like the Pizza Tapes and Shady Grove.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 23, 2011 9:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

You might be reading too much into it! Shady Grove, the Pizza Tapes, the live shows etc are perfectly pleasant, relaxed, laid-back music - much like a Garcia acoustic show, but with a mandolin and more old-time & jazzy tunes thrown in. It sounds like two old men on a porch, reminiscing through the songs of the past.
It also completely lacks the fire & intrigue of a Dead show. I feel about Garcia/Grisman vs. the Dead the way you might feel about the JGB vs. the Dead. (Or to put it another way, "Where's the drama?")
Of course, it's a different genre - maybe a better comparison would be with acoustic Dead, like on Reckoning. Garcia/Grisman compares to that pretty well. There is a lot of charm in the Aged Garcia singing these songs, and nothing wrong with the music. But for my preference in this style, I prefer more authentic old-time stringbands, or the drive of classic bluegrass. In terms of traditional music, it's like Old & in the Way vs. Bill Monroe's boys....
It may sound like I'm damning Garcia/Grisman with faint praise, but I really don't listen to it that much! Garcia's take on traditional folk music is very mellow & straightforward, but for me just lacks the mysterious pull other folk musicians have.

While we're on this style, here are some examples of an alternate Jerryverse - Young Garcia, with Sara and with the Wildwood Boys:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CTJYqyvWmI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZTFBoyijs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgjH6IOUzPg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGzwlgeel5w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFE0X27zEW8

This post was modified by light into ashes on 2011-07-23 16:11:20

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 23, 2011 12:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Thanks for the answer, you're right, I was reading too much into it. The "good friends making music together" aspect is really appreciated by me, but I agree there are a lot more exciting and dynamic traditional groups, the Garcia/Grisman approach is relaxed and nostalgic.

Those Sara and Jerry recordings are very cool, I first heard them a long time ago, in some show parking lot (assuming those youtube links are derived from the same source) but never had a copy of the tape. Nice to hear them again, thanks.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Jul 22, 2011 11:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Very cool way to express thoughts, especially regarding the contrasts which in your ear/mind make the GD sound classical. In some ways (and not meant as an insult), I wonder how you can enjoy rock at all, considering the music is usually delivered in only one level, be it bombastic, anthemic or a ballad - even though there are considerable pleasures to be had in the 3-5 minute snippets of a rock song. Then again, sometimes the sequence of songs, for example, Abbey Road side 2, adds up to that same very satisfying journey, made up of small jewel-like songs in contrasting settings.

I'm pretty sure you described why I enjoy Dark Star so much - the contrasts in tempo, volume, melodic interludes vs. chaotic fury... these all transport me to different feelings, through time and space into new realms.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 12:15pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I can enjoy "just songs" fine, and there is also a lot of art music that isn't necessarily dramatic, the music of the baroque has a somewhat different language so something like a Bach fugue doesn't rely on sharp and sudden contrasts.

It's just that large scale music with internal events is even more interesting to me, it is what I perceive as the most involving and intense, and why I think the best music of the GD has a lot of aesthetic kinship with Beethoven and Mahler.

I still really love the musical simplicity and purity of folk music, for me the Garcia/Grisman recordings are the most enjoyable GD related records, so I'm not exclusively biased towards enjoying long and complex stuff. I love jazz too, for that matter, I just don't have the kind of fanatical and devoted involvement with the music I have with the GD, I wasn't meaning to sound critical or dismissive of other genres.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Jul 22, 2011 12:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

"I wasn't meaning to sound critical or dismissive of other genres."

I apologize if I implied that. And agree, the Garcia/Grisman collabs. are some of the most treasured in my collection.

I can listen to and enjoy almost anything... although Mahler for me is still an acquired taste... rap/hip hop will never foul my airspace if I can help it....

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 2:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I think the main point to be made in this discussion of a 1985 version of PITB,is the fact that it is a 1985 version,therefore it goes without saying that in no way on any level is it going to approach a version when the band was still very good.Considering it's late date I found this version contained some sharp ensemble playing and some subtle thematic and dynamic changes that were as much as the band seemed to be capable of at this point in their history.
As a person who really loves jazz music having the word smooth attached to it is very disturbing,it is to my mind one of the reasons more people don't try and familiarize themselves with the art form,there are many different types of jazz,imagine if the overwhelming perception of rock was represented by Foreigner or Creed.I feel that by referring to jazz as smooth it equates all jazz with the likes of Kenny G and all those insipid artists who churn out that shit tagged smooth jazz.

Find some smoothness here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uMhfDPDjKU

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-22 21:37:57

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Jul 22, 2011 3:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

very interesting thread ...

I'm not big on jazz, and feel sort of guilty about it, I assume one needs a more sophisticatd ear than I possess to appreciate it ... but it's interesting you don't want to hear it called "smooth." There are so many radio stations that bill themselves as "smooth jazz"! Are they just all schmaltz?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 6:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Liking or disliking jazz is just a matter of taste Ring,you need not have a more sophisticated ear,with some time spent on it and your level of intelligence you would grasp a working knowledge very quickly.
Anything touted as smooth jazz is a weak,bastardized version,similar to the easy listening music version of rock,soul or pop songs you might hear while in an elevator or supermarket.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Jul 23, 2011 1:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

This reply just goes out to all who responded to the original post. My nieve take on this is quite possibly the WHO .I'm not saying that they directly influenced the DEAD but going way back to Montery and then Tommy hits big ,well is there any comparison w/ suites and reprises and the straight rock opera. I might be totally wrong but Townsend was into all kinds of music as was Jerry so Iam kinda linking them in a far off sort of way.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Jul 23, 2011 1:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

This reply just goes out to all who responded to the original post. My nieve take on this is quite possibly the WHO .I'm not saying that they directly influenced the DEAD but going way back to Montery and then Tommy hits big ,well is there any comparison w/ suites and reprises and the straight rock opera. I might be totally wrong but Townsend was into all kinds of music as was Jerry so Iam kinda linking them in a far off sort of way.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 2:58pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Great link - I didn't mean to sound dismissive, that was probably a wrongly chosen term. I'm familiar with a fair amount of the more experimental and free forms of the art, from Ornette through Derek Bailey and some players I've heard more locally like Roscoe Mitchell and Hanah Jon Taylor.

In free jazz, though, I still sometimes have the same perception, that the music 30 seconds into a track has a similar texture and content to the music 4 minutes in.

Perhaps I'm just not familiar with the musicians who would take such an approach, but I have always wanted to hear traditional jazz playing and free playing within the same musical frame - start with a standard head and play solos, then have the players break the solo structure and start playing motivically, possibly let it go atonal, then work back to the original.

I should have made it clear I'm a huge fan and admirer of most of the giants of jazz, especially Mingus, Ellington, Miles Davis, and Keith Jarrett.

In fact, Keith Jarrett's solo piano improv concerts are some of the music that really represents kind of an ideal for me - although I tend to hear that music as overlapping a lot with classical style and vocabulary, too.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Jul 22, 2011 3:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

thanks for educating a musical ignoramus (me)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 3:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

You can be a skilled and perceptive listener, or a good singer, without any formal training and knowledge. I know quite a few people with zero musical training or formal knowledge who have a better "ear" than I do, regardless of how much time I've spent trying to train it.

Sometimes I worry about posting a lot about music theory and referencing a lot of classical music, because there is a societal perspective that gives that music a kind of cultural status and privileges technical language. I don't really share those values, I believe musical quality is something that exists between the listener and the work, and I want to hear the beauty in everything.

It is fun to make comparisons, to try to articulate why I like X better than Y, but I never want to imply that my way of hearing is any better than anyone else's, or that my opinion is made more important because I've invested time in learning a lot of special purpose vocabulary for describing how music is put together.

So don't call yourself a musical ignoramus - as far as I'm concerned, everyone who loves the Grateful Dead should award themselves a MUSIC EXPERT OFFICIAL BADGE because the Grateful Dead is awesome music and anyone who can hear the beauty in their performances has good taste and knowledge!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Jul 24, 2011 6:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

thanks for the encouragement - I have just started piano lessons again. Am bookmarking this long and fascinating thread to study further ...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 9:20pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Bkidwell,I did not take your comments as dismissive and I figured a person with your knowledge of music had to at least be acquainted with some of the major jazz figures,to what extent would have been my question. As for the free improvising style you mentioned,I don't know that it hasn't been done that way,but pure traditional jazz and free playing are not usually mixed in a straight up manner,in a way what you mention is the essence of free jazz,just maybe not so tightly structured or inclusive of traditional stylings. I will put my mind to it and see if I can come up with some examples close to what you mentioned.I'm sure there is some Sun Ra or Anthony Braxton recordings in that vein.

Butch Morris is a composer and conductor of avant garde jazz and if you are not familiar you might like to google him.He has come up with a process called conduction.Conduction is a type of structured free improvisation where Morris conducts an improvising ensemble with a series of baton and hand gestures.Being familiar with the way a conductor works you might find what he is doing interesting.He has been at this since the mid-80's and I went and saw him every Monday night for about a year at a club in Manhattan where he led the David Murray Big Band,an assortment of the finest free jazz players in the world,on some mind blowing adventures.It was something to behold watching him group different individuals into improvising units creating what I would have to think was one time only music in content and sound,pure genius.Here is an example,the best I could find for now.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thq_6oyEqxm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZD76fhz9Rk

Once again the 2nd video won't play and everything seems correct,so I added another in the hopes it might play.

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-23 01:48:15

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-23 01:50:54

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-23 02:11:06

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-23 04:20:26

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 9:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Wow, this Butch Morris is really great! (Links do seem to have problems but I found some of his music just by searching his name.) Really interesting sound and texture and I can hear a ton of inner life in the ensemble. This is exciting music to me, thanks for the reference, The David Murray connection means its just two degrees of separation from the GD, also.

I also think Sun Ra's approach produces some very interesting textural contrasts within the music, also, although I've only heard a few of his recordings,

When I originally used the term "smooth" I forgot that there is an actual subgenre of jazz called "smooth jazz" so it was definitely a poorly chosen term, I was just trying to talk about drama and contrast, not meaning to imply that it all sounds bland.

I also wasn't meaning to imply that I think my personal love for drama and contrast is a general rule I think all music should follow, there are (as someone else pointed out) a lot of masterpieces even within the classical tradition that aren't based on contrast and drama. That musical language is mostly focused on central European composers from 1775-1900.

Thanks as always for your perspective, one of the best things about all the discussions on this forum is that it teaches all of us to "hear with different ears" by sharing our perceptions.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: duckpond74 Date: Jul 23, 2011 9:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

So, jerlouvis, if you are familiar with Butch Morris, have you heard and / or seen Greg Tate's Burnt Sugar? If so, curious to hear your take, and if you still are in proximity to Manhattan and Brooklyn, I'm envious that you have occasional opportunities to check them out live.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 23, 2011 10:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Yes sir DP,I am familiar with Greg Tate,he has been a music writer in the Village Voice( the alternative newspaper in NYC 40 or more years) for decades and is also a member of the Black Rock Coalition,aside from a number of different bands he has fronted over the years.I'm only familiar with Burnt Sugar through a few videos on youtube and some friends opinions who have seen them.After seeing Butch Morris do his thing with so many great musicians,in so many different forms,it is hard to compare the little I have seen of it to it's model which is Butch Morris,truth be told some of music I've heard seemed inferior due to the level of musicianship in Burnt Sugar,one piece I saw featured a sax player who did not play a single note of interest and he was featured,but as I said I have very limited exposure so there might be some fantastic Burnt Sugar out there.I still live about 30 miles from NYC on Long Island(better known as NYC Land) so it is a short hop into the city,due to some health issues,fewer and less listener friendly venues and seemingly smaller pool of out music in general my attendance has gone way down.It's good to see you get in on one these sort of jazz related threads DP,I remember you mentioning a bill with Sun Ra and Captain Beefheart that you attended,making me jealous I might add,and always hoped you would lend your perspective to some of these conversations because they would be the better for it.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: duckpond74 Date: Jul 24, 2011 9:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Jerlouvis, I haven't seen all of their videos, but I have seen Burnt Sugar several times over the last few years and always found them incredible. You may want to check them out next time they play The Apollo, I've heard their shows there have been amazing.. They definitely give credit to Butch Morris for their take on his Conduction, but they are are heavily influenced by Sun Ra, Funkadelic, Miles (Bitches Brew and Silent Way time frame), Hendrix as well as Prince, and several others. Diverse influences and a band that fluctuates between 8 to 18 players - I've seen them with more than 20 on stage - makes for an ever changing and always fresh performance. I'm sure some gigs are amazing and some may feature a train wreck or two. That's the risk with conduction and improvisation. I've seen a couple of near train wrecks, not unlike out Grateful Dead, but they've always stayed on the rails. I have seen them groove for over a half hour on a theme similar to The Other One. It was an unexpected joyful noise. On a different note, what do you think of Tortoise?

You mention that Sun Ra Captain Beefheart gig at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago from Spring of '73. Did I mention that it was a triple bill with a young and very nervous John Hammond opening? He only knew he had an opening slot gig. It wasn't till he got to the venue that he saw who - and 'what' - he was opening for. He was completely freaked, but rose to the occasion and gave a good set in the end. It was actually a four set night when you count the set where Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band were joined by Sun Ra and much of his Arkestra for a set that almost seemed rehearsed the way they pulled it off - I mean that in a good way.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 24, 2011 1:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I would have been a happy man watching a Beefheart/Sun Ra collaboration in 1973 DP, you lucky dog.
I had heard of Tortoise but my only listening experience came in a project they did with Beck Hansen and Thurston Moore on Beck's website,it featured them al doing covers of Yanni's music oddly enough,if you have any interest you can go to beck.com under record club,and watch /listen to the videos of said music.
Having read Greg Tates music column over many years and seeing him at countless shows I attended,when I first heard of Burnt Sugar and it's ideology it seemed to be a very appealing situation,for a variety of reasons it just never synched up for me to catch a show,then I got a bad review or two of shows from friends and sort of put them on the backburner so to say.However I still have an interest and with your recommendation I will definitely keep them in mind.Here is that bad video I saw,I'm pretty sure you will see what I was saying as far as a useless sax solo and fairly sloppy and lame backup from the ensemble.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1hZ1t-vbms

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: duckpond74 Date: Jul 23, 2011 9:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

" I have always wanted to hear traditional jazz playing and free playing within the same musical frame - start with a standard head and play solos, then have the players break the solo structure and start playing motivically, possibly let it go atonal, then work back to the original."

So, bkidwell, what do you think about Bill Frisell, Charlie Hayden and especially Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber?

Are you familiar with Charles Lloyd's 'The Water Is Wide'?

Given your interesting discussion with jerlouvis and others here, curious to get your take on these folks and their work.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 23, 2011 12:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I wish I had a better answer for you than: "Love Bill Frisell, a true master. I only really know Haden from his work with Ornette and Jarrett, haven't heard his work as a leader. Burnt Sugar is new to me. I only know Charles Lloyd from his appearances with the GD, if that is even actually him."

I only have expert-level knowledge of European classical music and the Grateful Dead, and within the jazz world, I'm pretty ignorant (in comparison) of everything post-1975. It's not that I don't enjoy and appreciate the music, it's just that I love Schumann and Mozart and the GD so much it can be hard to find the time to really listen and explore new things.

I always hear the music of the best classical composers, and the best work of the GD, as having a certain really sophisticated musical language, with a lot of implicit "rules" about how the notes are chosen and what they signify. One of the reasons why I am always trying to claim that the improv of the GD is more like classical composition than jazz of any kind is that I rarely hear that sense of "precise meaning" in jazz, even that of skilled modern improvisers.

I tend to hear the jazz style, in both free and structured contexts, as more impressionistic, and not as focused on the significance of the individual note. A lot of it has to do with different concepts of musical harmony, I think. If you look at the way chords are used in jazz, it is very different from what is called "functional harmony" in classical music. This is a complex and subtle topic that goes in a really technical direction - the basis of harmony in the overtone series, how our ear perceives the relation of harmony and melody, and then trying to understand the relation of atonality or alternative chords and scales to these things.

One technical aspect of this is that rock music uses the mixolydian mode as the default, rather than the major scale. The mixolydian mode doesn't contain a major dominant, and the major dominant is the foundation of how harmonic tension works. I'll stop now because if I write more, I won't be able to stop.

"The decline of the dominant and the rise of flat seven: is functional harmony possible in rock tonality? Studies in Grateful musicology, volume XVII, coming soon!"

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: duckpond74 Date: Jul 24, 2011 10:51am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

"I only have expert-level knowledge of European classical music and the Grateful Dead ..." and that is a great deal of worthy knowledge in my book. I have dabbled in all sorts of music - old and new, near and far, common and exotic. As far as the broad 'classical' music scene goes, I have a strong love of Early and Medieval music - I still play my vinyl of Ricercare - The ancient Music Ensemble of Zurich. I'm well versed in all of the 'heavies' from Baroque to John Cage, with preferences for Dowland, Hildegard Von Bingen, Satie, Debussey, Faure, Messiaen, Hovaness, Xenakis, Chopin and Shoenberg.

You seem to have a strong music theory background, so I'll throw this old conundrum your way . . . When the album 'The Restful Mind' by Larry Coryell (and members of Oregon) came out in '75, the first track 'Improvisation On Robert De Visee's Menuet ll', re-ignited the rumour / myth at that time, that passages of 'China Cat' were inspired by De Visee. Are you familiar with that Coryell recording, and have you any insight as to whether or not there's truth to that tale, or is it all hogwash? You may be the one to put to rest a decades old speculation.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 24, 2011 2:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I don't think there is any direct musical connection between the de Visee and China Cat. I'm not familiar with that Coryell album but I can't see how it could change my opinion.

I think China Cat is obviously influenced by a certain contrapuntal/baroque feel - Weir said it was the only song where Jerry gave him a totally specific part to play, so it's clear Jerry was trying to create some lines that fit together in a very defined way.

I suspect people have proposed the connection because that minuet is a very commonly used teaching piece for guitar students, and as a result musical elements which are common to a large amount of Baroque music might trigger people's association. I think people are just hearing the "short-short-long" rhythmic pattern and sequential use of scale fragments.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 22, 2011 7:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Well, there's smooth and then there's "smooth"...a lot of Miles Davis' work from the '60s I'd call smooth, I think in the sense that bkidwell meant it - I know you've said you don't like Miles - but it's nothing like the horror of Kenny G and today's "smooth jazz" stations... So yeah, due to the connotation, the word should probably be avoided when it comes to actual jazz!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 8:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Smooth just conjures up images of uptight looking white guys in suits from the 50's playing dull straight ahead snappy garbage,as easily as it does todays schlock by Kenny G or whatever is passing for smooth jazz.
I knew what bkidwell was getting at LIA,but I had to say something.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: JihadOMuffin Date: Jul 22, 2011 10:45pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Bkidwell, there is a Playing that is exactly what you are talking about. I forgot which one, but I will look for and post it under Dramatic PITB.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Jul 22, 2011 1:03pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

"Now, thinking a little more deeply, I wonder if this is a difference in stylistic perception between my ears and other listeners. From the very nice post about "under the radar" guitarists and other comments about people's listening, I'd guess that modern jazz is the genre many people listen to most outside the GD?"

I doubt it. My assumption would be that for most GD fans, rock and roll is still the number one genre outside of GD.

"One of the reasons I've never been drawn into jazz too much is that a lot of jazz has this kind of "smoothness" to my ears where it proceeds for long stretches of time with the same style and feel to the music, there aren't necessarily a lot of dramatic events in the music."

One of the reasons that I've never been drawn to classical music is that almost everything is predetermined and lacking in improvisation. Generally speaking, I can see the points you make about the link between GD and classical music, but I think the links to jazz and blues are far more pronounced and influential.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 1:43pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Actually, improvisation was an integral part of classical music prior to the 20th century - the way modernity has turned classical music into a specimen in a jar rather than the living, breathing art it used to be is a pet peeve of mine.

Bach was famous for his improvisatory skills, as were Mozart, Beethoven, and Liszt. When Mozart's piano concertos were first performed, with W.A. Mozart himself on keys, the orchestral parts were pre-written but Wolfgang would improvise his own part - if there are any bootleg recordings I wish we had, it would be the recordings of Mozart playing his own concertos, I cannot even imagine.

Opera singers in the 19th century would always add improvisations to their arias, sometimes so much that the composer would be irritated that nothing was left of the original.

Any self-respecting piano virtuoso of the 19th century was expected to be able to improvise up a storm and to prove it was real improv by doing it on a theme suggested by the audience. Of course there were scandals when a confederate would be planted and the pianist would play something they cad precomposed in secret!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Jul 22, 2011 1:12pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

One way you could look at it is that this performances like this ( in this case Playing and its jam ), is a sort of "movement" in a classical work,that happens to be relative uniform . As you know, not all classical movements are musically "narrative," or especially developmental . So the dynamic,musical, and emotional, contrasts come within the context of the set, or show, and not always within the separate "song," in some cases . Like you, I tend to favor the performances that have a musical "story," dynamics, events , etc., but I can also enjoy a move static sort of jam .
Also, coming where the Dead did in musical history,classical musiic , in the 60's was exposed the influence of jazz, various "world" musics, Medieval, and Renaissance church music . An example would be the "minimalist" composers like Reich, Glass, Young, etc.;so there were examples of modern classical music that were/are not developmental, in the the way a Haydn, Beethoven,or Mahler piece , might be . Does this make any sense ?
In the context of this rather lackluster, but ok show, this dive into a quaret hour of jellyfish-land was unexpected and fun .

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 1:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Good points! There is definitely a lot more nuance and complexity involved than I was able to state in my post.

You can actually hear a lot of the changes in musical style at the beginning of the 20th century as a reaction against the dramatic and developmental style. There is an anecdote about Debussy walking out of a concert of music by some Serious German composer in the middle and stage-whispering to his companion, "Let's go. He's starting to develop." - the implication being that the techniques of thematic development used in the middle section of a sonata-form work were stereotypical and boring.

I also agree that musical styles like minimalism, neotraditional ethnic, electronic music, aleatory and chance music of various kinds were also very present in the 1960s and had a role in shaping the GD approach, and none of these musics are based on narrative drama.